takumashiku ikiyo (rendered as “Live Tough” in the film’s subtitles) / たくましく生きよ
The adjective “takumashii” is generally translated as “strong,” “sturdy,” “robust,” even “indefatigable.” However, this does not truly capture the spirit of this word.
It is important to place the word in context, in a culture that speaks of the broadness of a father’s back as the image of strength, reliability, and stability. Japan is an island country with limited resources and very limited arable land. Historically, big things and broad things, rivers, mountains, ancient trees, were awe inspiring and engendered great respect. The clothing of nobles and warriors lent them largeness, the better to look powerful and trustworthy. In this culture then, to be large or robust is not simply to be “tough.” Rather, it is the ability to be a rock for others to lean on, to be the tree that shelters others from the storm.
With this in mind, the new school motto takes on tremendous meaning. It commands the students to live lives that will allow them to help others. It says to them, “Don’t let this make you small, don’t let it overshadow your life. Be greater than this.”